Practitioners utilise high-powered equipment to examine the plasma (the liquid component of blood) and gather data. From this data, we analyse how it relates to your food allergy and intolerances.
We’ve all heard people talking about having ‘allergies’ or ‘intolerances’ as it’s quite a common thing in the modern age, but the true definition of what they are and the difference between them is confused or misunderstood. In the Lifelab laboratory our analysts use The Allergy Line Test, which is an enzyme immunoassay for in-vitro testing. There are two distinct areas of testing we carry out in our laboratory; IgE, for allergies and IgG4, for intolerances.
“An allergy is the body’s immune system responding to what would normally be considered a harmless substance such as pollen, food, mould, pets’ hair, insects, medicines or house dust mites” (Allergy UK, 2017)
Essentially this means that the body is reacting to something it comes into contact with via breathing, ingesting or touching. The body perceives this substance, to be a ‘threat’ and produces an inappropriate response aka an allergy symptom.
The physiological response to a threatening substance is for the body’s immune system to produce antibodies, antibodies are produced by a type of white blood cell called a B cell. When B cells become activated, because the body is responding to a ‘threat’ or antigen, they develop into plasma cells. Plasma cells create antibodies that are specific to an antigen. The type of antibody produced in an allergic response is IgE, these are found mostly in saliva and mucus.
To put this into context you may have eaten a food, touched an item or inhaled a substance (like pollen) that would ordinarily be harmless. The body has mistakenly identified the substance as a threat and produced antibodies. The next time you come to interact with the items again, you experience allergic symptoms. These symptoms can be as mild as a runny nose and severe as anaphylactic shock.
According to the NHS food intolerance is a difficulty digesting certain foods and experiencing physical symptoms as a result of eating them (2016).
The onset of food intolerance symptoms tends to be slower and can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting a food. Common food intolerances include lactose and histamine intolerance, these are triggered by a deficiency in the enzyme, which aids the breakdown of these substances.
At Lifelab, we can test for ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ where the symptoms experienced are similar to those of coeliac disease, however there are no associated antibodies and no damage occurs to the lining of the gut. We do not test for gluten IgE allergy as in our experience this is rarely seen. It must be noted that gluten IgE allergy is not the same as coeliac disease, this is an autoimmune condition and if you suspect you may have coeliac disease we strongly recommend you seek advice from your GP.
Lifelab Testing™ has a team of professionals to provide unlimited support and advice.